Although the Itals unleashed a steam of exceptional singles across the latter half of the '70s, it wasn't until 1981, when the U.S. label Nighthawk Records stepped up to the bat, that the trio finally recorded their debut album. The label may have been stateside, but their ears were firmly attuned to the island, and Brutal Out Deh is one of those rare gems, an American album that sounds pure Jamaican. It helped that it was recorded on the island, at Harry J and Channel One studios, mixed by Sylvan Morris and backed by the Roots Radics with the assistance of the likes of Sly & Robbie. And even better, the album offered up a clutch of old hits, including the potent sufferer's song "Brutal," the powerful warning against "Temptation," and the impassioned devotion of "Time Will Tell." Other classics, like the chant-along "Rastafari Chariot," the Rasta victory of "Run Baldhead Run," and the heady optimism of "Smile Knotty Dread," are equal standouts. The entire set has a lovely, understated quality to it, as the insistent, but gentle, rhythms set the songs softly swaying to be caressed by the trio's sonorous harmonies. Understandably, then, this deeply cultural album rocketed the group to roots fame in the U.S., and laid the cornerstone for their subsequent success.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene